The prospect of renovating your home can certainly be exciting, especially if you’ve had to live with outdated decor and less-than functional living spaces for a while now. Unfortunately, it can also be a rather pricy process if you fail to plan accordingly. Even though you may have been dreaming of your chef’s kitchen or master bath upgrade for a while now, there’s a lot more to renovating your home than picking out paint colors and appliances. So before you dive head-first into demolishing your interior spaces, there are a few matters you’ll want to attend to. Here are some things you’ll definitely want to do before you drop the hammer on your renovations, so to speak.
- Create a budget. The place to start with any renovation project is by setting a budget. This can be difficult to do when you don’t know the costs involved, but regardless, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you can actually afford to spend. This number could be based on the money you have in savings or it might revolve around the amount you can get in an equity line (or what you can reasonably afford in monthly payments in addition to your mortgage and other bills). When you have a set number in mind for your budget you may not get everything you want, but if you get creative you should be able to find ways to complete your renovation without breaking the bank.
- Get bids. Once you’ve got your budget set it’s time to bring in contractors to get bids for your renovation project. You should tell each vendor what you want to do and the budget you have in mind. Be wary of those who promise the moon or those who give you a bid that is far above what you can afford. What you’re looking for in a contractor is someone who tells you what you can do with the money you’ve got and offers low-cost alternatives that are comparable to the big-ticket costs you’ve got planned, such as granite tiles or faux stone for your countertop as an inexpensive alternative to the solid slab you had in mind. A good contractor will also agree to let you handle some of the load (like demo, hauling away debris, and picking up materials, for example) in order to ensure that the project comes in on budget.
- Gather materials. In case you didn’t know, contractors will often charge you an hourly rate or a percentage of every purchase (sometimes both) if they have to pick up materials. Instead, you might want to go shopping on your own for wood flooring, cabinets, tile, and other materials. There are certain things your contractor can probably get for a discount, so you should ask, but for the most part you’ll want to comparison shop on your own to get the best prices.
- Make alternative living arrangements. When your home is in disarray and you don’t have access to kitchens or bathrooms, it’s probably a good idea to get your family out of the house. A hotel can be expensive, so see if you can stay with extended family or friends for the duration of the renovation process.
- Prepare for overages. It is recommended that you budget an extra 20% for potential overages caused by unknown issues. Suppose, for example, that your contractor takes out a wall only to find that it is filled with asbestos, requiring a hazmat team to remove it. Or what if he’s moving the plumbing around and discovers that it’s not up to code. Maybe something seemingly simple like replacing an outdated, dial thermostat with a programmable model will reveal that your furnace has a terrible AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating, causing you to want to replace it. When you’ve budgeted for such overages they won’t leave you holding the bag on a renovation that has exceeded your allotted funding.